Overweight Patients Seeking FertilityPosted June 9, 2015 by Stacy Bolzenius
Although there are risks with every pregnancy, some women are more at risk than others. Age, medical history, menstrual cycle regularity, and overall health all play a role in not only maintaining a healthy pregnancy, but also in achieving one. While the factors that effect fertility are many, one of the most common is weight.
Infertility, Obesity and Anovulation
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infertility affects 12 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44. Infertility is common, but is your patient’s weight the cause? The affects of weight on fertility are often paired with the patient’s ovulatory health. Does your patient have regular periods? If not, consider not only excessive stress or emotional trauma, but don’t stop there. Obesity itself may not be the cause of difficulty, rather it could be an additional symptom of a deeper condition causing anovulation, such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Other reasons for anovulation include hormonal imbalances, thyroid problems, problems with the cervix or uterus, and fallopian tube blockage or damage. Assessing the cause of infertility is a long process, but remember to consider ovulation when an overweight patient is experiencing difficulty conceiving.
If your patient is indeed ovulatory, one of the best ways for a patient to monitor the relationship between her fertility and her weight is to keep an eye on her BMI. One study revealed that when a woman’s body mass index is higher than 29, her fertility rate decreases by 4 percent. Further, for every point over 29, her likelihood of achieving pregnancy decreases by an additional 4 percent. Weight gain can not only impact, but compound infertility, so address the issue as soon as signs of difficulty are verified to prevent additional issues.
Infertility Treatments for Overweight Patients
Being overweight can have an impact on treatments used for pregnancy, such as medications and in vitro fertilization. Women who are overweight are more likely to have overstimulation from fertility treatments, which results in multiple pregnancies. Overweight women usually have fewer eggs retrieved during IVF, have a lower IVF success rate, and have a lower embryo implantation rate.
After an overweight patient is confirmed to have difficulty achieving pregnancy, immediately enforce a dieting plan and tangible weight loss goals. Creating a plan prevents complications of fertility treatments, wasted money and time on treatments, and the disappointment associated with the treatments not working. Weightloss has benefits on more than just conception, too; obesity can complicate an established pregnancy since it puts the mother at risk for conditions such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. All things considered, losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of one’s body weight is enough to improve the chances of conceiving. Weight has an impact on achieving pregnancy, so be sure to know how to approach the issue of infertility with patients who struggle with obesity.